"Bitcoin has definitely lowered the barrier to entry for global media businesses."

— Allen Scott

In the latest episode of Epicenter Bitcoin, our guests were none other than Cointelegraph’s Chief Editor Allen Scott, and frequent contributor Ian DeMartino. This was their first time on the show since we announced our partnership back in October.

Not surprisingly, our discussion was centered around independent media, and specifically, the new business models and monetization opportunities that Bitcoin enables for content producers. As an independent podcast, we are particularly attentive to this subject, as we explore different ways to earn a living.

Founded in 2013, Cointelegraph (CT) has grown to become one of the most prominent and trusted sites covering Bitcoin. Their content is sourced from dozens of staff and freelance writers from around the globe, which allows them to have eyes and ears on the ground in Bitcoin communities worldwide. Funded mostly by private investors who wish to remain anonymous, CT's staff operates in near-complete autonomy and without censorship. Their staff includes Maria Jones, their general manager; Allen Scott, their chief editor; and Dennis Spaans, their creative director and the man behind their signature comic book artwork.

"I don't think the decentralized nature of our business would be possible without Bitcoin."

— Ian DeMartino

Ian, a freelance writer who works almost exclusively for CT, receives 100% of his salary in Bitcoin. Indeed, cryptocurrency has made it possible for independent media outlets to employ and pay reporters in nearly every time zone, a feat usually reserved for large media groups with significant resources and infrastructure. He also points out another interesting fact. Because Bitcoin eliminates the need for third-party staffing platforms such as Elance, fees that would normally go to these companies can now go directly in the pocket of the writers.

Cointelegraph has developed an automated meritocracy-based payroll system, which calculates writer's compensation based on a number of factors. Among these are the number of social media shares generated by an article. Every week, a common pot is split among writers in proportion to the popularity of their individual posts.

On average, a person can generate $20 to $50 per article, explains Ian. For major scoops, like the news of Microsoft accepting Bitcoin, writers can make upwards of $200. But the author isn't the only one to cash in on the success of a post. Their egalitarian model ensures the editor and artist also take home a piece of the pie.

New monetization opportunities for independent media

There's no doubt that Bitcoin creates new opportunities and enables new models for independent content producers. One notable experiment is Lets Talk Bitcoin's LTBcoin. But the promise of Bitcoin lies in microtransactions, which have been difficult to utilize in the past due to high transactions fees. At the moment, Bitcoin tips are too few and too little to forgo traditional business models such as advertising. However, we may see tips and donations take a more important role in content monetization as cryptocurrency adoption grows, and consumer habits change.

I'm personally skeptical about whether we will ever be able to move away from advertising and build a business solely based on tips and donations. I feel people are so used to getting free content (or rather, receiving content in exchange for being advertised to) that generating revenue as anything other than extra income would be unlikely.

Allen disagrees and thinks direct monetization is achievable. "People are willing to pay for quality content," he says. Ian adds, "It's surprising how hard it was to get people to take money before ChangeTip." These are both valid points. Effectively, much like email, Bitcoin is sender-controlled, and social media tipping services make it possible for anyone to send money to anyone else with a social media account.

In essence, if we, the Bitcoin community wish to promote tipping, it is up to us to encourage that behavior by doing just that. If you like someone's article, video or podcast, use a tipping service to send them a small donation, regardless of whether they accept Bitcoin. In turn, they may be inclined to send someone else a tip, and so forth. And thus, network effects playout and content producers both small and large may someday be able to make a reasonable living through a means other than advertising.

"We see way too many ads in our lifetime."

— Ian DeMartino

About Epicenter Bitcoin

Epicenter Bitcoin is a show about the technologies, projects & startups driving decentralization and the global cryptocurrency revolution. Every week hosts Brian Fabian Crain and Sebastien Couture talk to some of the most influential people in the cryptocurrency space about their projects, and get their perspectives on recent events.

You can take part in the live Google Hangout on YouTube or download the audio version after the fact on SoundCloud, iTunes and other podcast apps.

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